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Where customer-centered innovation is heading.

Tim Fisher // As I write this we’re headlong into a study of the customer-centered innovation market. When we publish it this summer, it’ll offer a clear view of the current state and trajectory of a particular kind of innovation —the kind that puts the customer at the center and lets insights about what people truly care about drive product and service strategy, design, and development.

To be completely honest, we’re going through all of this trouble with a study just to scratch our own itch.

I’ll explain...

It was the end of last year and my business partners and I were sitting around our conference table talking about the year we’d just been through and looking to the year ahead. We’d seen some big changes afoot in the world and in our market in particular. And like most change, when you’re in the middle of it, it’s hard to tell where things are headed.

There were some things that we knew for sure:

  • We’d seen the business of innovation explode in prominence in the past twenty years or so.

  • The lead up and first year of the Trump presidency had introduced uncertainty into many markets, and corporate investment was relatively slow in the first half of the year.

  • Design and innovation teams within large companies were becoming commonplace, and the battle for in-house talent was in full-swing.

  • Skill sets that used to be held by a rare few are now practiced by a multitude of professionals.

And some big shifts also seemed to be happening:

  • We’d seen a whole strata of mid-sized consulting firms in our space acquired by the major management consulting firms or technology companies looking to expand their offerings.

  • We’d seen our clients expand their own in-house innovation capabilities.

  • We’d seen some smaller consultancies (with top-tier talent) close up shop and disappear.

The trouble with the conversation we were having around that table was that all of our proof points were anecdotal. No one could cite a reputable source with a handle on where the customer-centered innovation space was headed.

We asked our friends in the business if they were seeing their consultancies grow? If they were in-house, were they seeing their design and innovation teams grow? Were they outsourcing less? Some anecdotes we heard back were useful, but no one really had a definitive handle on how our market was evolving.

We looked to the press and reviewed a dozen or so “innovation reports” published by the who’s who of consulting and technology firms to see if they could tell us what was going on. Since the term “innovation” has been co-opted by nearly everyone, our search for meaningful data on our “customer-centered innovation” didn’t turn up much.

So at the risk of planning the future of our business on hunches and rumors, we decided to seek answers to our big questions ourselves.

We would approach things like we would for one of our clients (there’s nothing like drinking your own Kool-Aid!). And we’d publish the findings for all of our market’s benefit. Because if we had these questions we certainly wouldn’t be alone.

When the findings are published this summer (and we hope it will become an annual thing), we’ll share answers to questions like:

  • What roles are most responsible for leading innovation inside of large companies today?

  • What is the typical annual budget for customer-centered innovation?

  • Are innovation efforts being executed by internal staff, external partners, or a mix of both? In what proportion?

  • Are there clear differences, boundaries, or distinctions between R&D, innovation, and design as seen through internal and external lenses?

  • How is artificial intelligence and/or big data playing a role in innovation efforts?

  • What are the biggest catalysts for innovation efforts getting funded?

  • What are the biggest hurdles?

  • Are consultancies seeing their businesses grow? If not, why?

The raw data is starting to pour in, and our one-on-one interviews with senior innovation leaders are already offering up some surprises.

I’m looking forward to sharing the Scansion Customer-Centered Innovation Report with you when it’s done, and our itch is scratched.


Tim Fisher

VP Customer Experience


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